Jackie Elliott, a loyal member of Team IAPWA and dedicated fundraiser, has recently set up a community library to raise vital funds for the animals in our care. Jackie is a huge animal lover and lives in South Devon with her cat, Bonnie, and her adorable Border Terrier, Dylan. We caught up with her to find out more about her incredible work as part of Team IAPWA.

Jackie's community library full of books.
Your community library is a great idea, Jackie! How is it going?

Some of the people who support my fundraising helped me to set it up last month and it’s going really well so far.

We weren’t too sure how it would go but people are using it as their local library – they’re taking a book, CD or DVD and then bringing it back, and then it goes out again! We have been letting people just donate what they can and that way you get a lot of different people interested. We’ve even got a selection of children’s books now. 

We’re trying to raise £100 and we’re around the £80 mark at the moment. We’ll see how it goes for a month or two and then we might be able to expand it and set one up in another part of the town where I live.

You’ve also been involved in lots of other fundraising events for IAPWA haven’t you?

Yes, I’ve been doing them for just over three years now. I started off by doing a Halloween party – that was my first ever event – and because it was quite popular I thought I’d have a go at doing different things. That’s how it started and then I found myself doing something every single month. It was quite a challenge really!

I’ve taken part in challenge events; I’ve done gym events in the past, and even swimming events and things like that. I try to mix it up as best as I can. I enjoy doing it and I’ve got quite a lot of work colleagues, neighbours and friends who support me which is great. They’re really good  they help with the events and donate as well.

There were a few months I missed last year right at the beginning of lockdown because it was very difficult, but that’s the only time I’ve ever missed an event.

That’s completely understandable and it’s fantastic that you’ve managed to keep going since then. How have you adapted to fundraising from home?

I kind of improvise a lot of things. One of the events I used to run was a pub quiz – we did three rounds and then a break where I used to do a prize draw – but obviously I haven’t been able to do that at the moment. So I did it the old-fashioned way! I sent out a quiz in the post to quite a lot of people who were interested and they posted it back to me.

I also ran a board game weekend a couple of weeks ago. Usually people come round to my house and my neighbour’s opposite us; we’d play board games over the weekend, I’d put on food and drinks and they’d make a donation, but we did it in our own houses this time. I played Scrabble, other people played chess, backgammon, Cluedo and Monopoly. It was really popular!

Because I live in South Devon I’m really lucky and have scope to do a lot of things – I’ve taken part in sponsored walks on Dartmoor and on the Torbay coastline, as well as South Hams coast. Obviously I haven’t been able to do walks like that recently, but hopefully that’s going to change soon once things ease up a bit. 

I try to raise £80-100 every month, so over the year it really adds up and I’m quite pleased with that.

You must have raised well over £3,000 by now – that’s amazing! What made you decide to start fundraising for IAPWA?

It all started after I followed a couple on Facebook who had rescued a dog from Romania – they had posted lots of videos and updates of their dog settling into the UK. They were already in the IAPWA Facebook group and Nicky, IAPWA’s Founder, got in touch with me and asked if I’d be interested in joining. I didn’t know anything about IAPWA at the time, but I thought I’d look into it and see what it was all about.

Jackie at the gym during a cycling challenge event.

I’m a big animal person so that’s why I’m interested in animal charities, and IAPWA is something a bit different to me. They’re a little bit smaller but they do lots of different projects to help animals. I also liked how many different animals they help – it’s not just dogs and cats; they’ve even helped elephants, rhinos and much more in the past – and that’s why I got involved.

I just started fundraising and it snowballed from there! I thought “well if I can do that, I’m going to have a go at doing this” and so on. I can’t believe it’s been three years – it’s just flown by! IAPWA are fantastic and really grateful for the support so I try to help as much as I can.

Even Dylan took part in Jackie's Christmas jumper fundraiser!

I find the groups really friendly and it’s great that we all work together. I’ve met some of them at the IAPWA events I’ve been to and we keep in touch on Facebook. It’s a nice community and I’ve made lots of friends with people who live all over the country.

What advice do you have for other people who might want to get involved and set up their own fundraising events?

Try to advertise in places that people associate with animals – like vets and things like that – as they will usually help you for free. You don’t really want to pay out to advertise if you can help it. I work in a small local shop now and they let me advertise there too.

Also, try to get a group of people together who will donate something each month. If they do a little bit each month and you’ve got quite a lot of people on board, it soon adds up. 

Finally, try to vary it. Do some challenge events to push yourself as well as doing other events like quizzes and things like that. I really enjoy it! I find that I get good support and I’m going to carry on doing it as much as I can to help the animals.

Thanks so much for speaking to us, Jackie. We can’t wait to see what else you get up to!

If you’ve been inspired by Jackie’s story, why not join Team IAPWA? Whether it’s holding your own fundraising event, taking part in a fun challenge or helping to spread the word about the animals who need our help; we’d love for you to be part of our growing community of animal lovers. Every little bit we do together creates a brighter future for the animals in our care.

Find out more about our fundraising opportunities or get in touch at fundraising@iapwa.org for a FREE Fundraising Pack.

Written by: Helen Saxton
IAPWA Blog Manager